Kangaroos Invading Australian Cities as Drought Worsens

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On the edges of Canberra, kangaroos have posed such a problem at two Australian Department of Defense training sites that the department wants to do a planned hunt of the animals. (Related: "Birth Control for Kangaroos: Scientists' Population Control Plan" [September 6, 2006].)

"Kangaroos are impacting endangered ecological communities, which include several threatened species, and there are strong indications that many kangaroos will soon starve unless numbers there are reduced,'' said Russell Watkinson, the director of Australia's Parks, Conservation and Lands.

The kangaroos' search for food led them to land used for training defense personnel.

That land is also home to two threatened species of lizards. The lizards are going hungry because of lack of food, and reduced vegetation makes them easy pickings for predators.

"There is strong evidence that some of these threatened species have declined where there has been excessive grazing, [though] they have remained healthy in comparable areas where grazing pressure is controlled," Watkinson said.

It's not just kangaroos that move in search of sustenance.

Native birds have also been observed to travel large distances for better foraging, Mackey said, said the unknown factor is how they know when and where to go.

No one knows when the drought will break, but Mackey said kangaroos will be ready to adapt to any changed conditions, whether good or bad.

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